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Constructing Additional Meaning with Concrete Poetry

By Holly Bliss

Concrete poetry is sometimes known as shape poems, calligrams, kinetic poetry, visual poems, pattern poetry, or permutational poetry. Even though poetry is considered a type of art by many, when you begin investigating the form you realize the lines between words and art can suddenly become blurred.

This type of poetry can be as simple as a love poem written in the shape of a heart, to being as complex as words sliding on and off a computer screen at predetermined intervals.

SAY WHAT? Nothing tricky here - pronounced the same as the cement-like substance.


Concrete poetry found its way into regular poetry circles in the beginning of the twentieth century and became a popular experimental form in the sixties. However, according to VISUAL POETRY: A Brief History of Ancestral Roots and Modern Traditions by Karl Kempton, "the oldest illustrated example is a circa 3,000 year old Egyptian near-labyrinth crossword hymn from the 20th dynasty (i.e. 1000 BCE)."


Anything goes here. If you have a high degree of creativity (and an airplane) even the sky won't limit you.


**Medium - Will you use pen and paper, digital language and computer, traffic signs and a camera or something else - perhaps something completely new? If you want to try new, consider what technology is newest and try to come up with a way to create visual poetry with it.

-If you choose a typewriter or word processor, think about what font style, font size and even color. All can add extra meaning to your work.

-Let's say you've decided to use natural materials for your poem about global warming. What's in your backyard that could aid you? Does that rock? Could this stick? Think about items that could have dual (or more) meanings.

**Imagery - Are you going to stay close to the ground floor and use more concrete imagery or will you go right to the roof and opt for the abstract, or maybe you only want to climb the scaffolding to the first few floors and combine the two.


Concrete poetry is not relegated to the visual; sound can also be used with the visual or by itself with this form.

Websites to investigate (I am not affiliated with these sites in any way. I simply found them interesting and on this topic):

A few examples of more complex visual poetry online: (touchme) (portraits)

A way to create some complex visual poetry for yourself:
(click on "English Version" if you don't read French)

© 2008 Holly Bliss. All Rights Reserved. This document may be freely redistributed in its unedited form and on the condition that all copyright references are kept intact along with the hyperlinked URLs.

About the Author: Using her writing as paint on the canvas of her life, Holly Bliss is an eclectic writer, newsletter editor and an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Poetry

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